Cory Booker on Drugs
Mayor of Newark; N.J. Senator
So much of this comes down to privilege. We have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent.
We can specifically and demonstrably now show that there are 17,000 people unjustly incarcerated in America, and all of us should come forward and say, when I am president of the United States, we will release them.
BIDEN: He has a similar plan. When someone is convicted of a drug crime, they should be going to rehabilitation. They shouldn't be going to prison.
BOOKER: This is a crisis in our country because we have treated issues of race and poverty, mental health and addiction with locking people up and not lifting them up. The V.P. has said that, since the 1970s, every crime bill, major and minor, has had his name on it. Sir, those are your words, not mine. The house was set on fire and you claimed responsibility for those laws. And you can't just now come out with a plan to put out that fire. We have got to have far more bold action on criminal justice reform, like having true marijuana justice in communities that have been disproportionately targeted by marijuana enforcement.
BIDEN: Those bills were passed years ago and they were passed overwhelming.
TWO CANDIDATES HAVE SIMILAR VIEWS: Joseph Biden, Jr.; Bernie Sanders.
Sen. Cory Booker has introduced a bill meant to serve as a companion to the 2018 criminal justice legislation, called the Next Step Act. Booker's bill would eliminate the crack cocaine sentencing disparity by reducing it from 18:1 to 1:1.
Sen. Bernie Sanders called for the same in 2015, prompting Hillary Clinton to embrace the same reform.
A: They should absolutely be held criminally liable, because they are liable and responsible. We have been seeing how we've tried to arrest our way out of addiction for too long. It is time that we have a national urgency to deal with this problem and make the solutions that are working to actually be the law of our land and make the pharmaceutical companies that are responsible help to pay for that.
ANALYSIS: : Some progressives and minority voters would consider the "opioid epidemic" just the latest application of biased enforce-ment, and would expect Booker to apply his racial-bias philosophy to a general rejection of drug enforcement. Booker would differentiate opioids as more dangerous than marijuana - which critics would say follows in the scare-tactic footsteps of Demon Rum and Reefer Madness. Booker's proposed border interdiction above is a standard proposal of Drug Warriors--just involving international institutions as a novel feature.
We are also coming to realize how essential it is to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline--the ridiculous policies that have criminalized kids instead of nurturing them, helping them, & healing them. There is a growing body of research that shows we can lower crime rates by better dealing with childhood trauma and investing in policies such as Nurse-Family Partnerships, where at-risk mothers get home nurse visits that are proven to reduce the cost to taxpayers of everything from kids' emergency room visits to teens' encounters with the police.
The war on drugs has turned out to be a war on PEOPLE--and far too often a war on people of color and the poor. Marijuana use, for example, is roughly equal among blacks and whites, yet blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for possession than whites.
Further, there is no difference between blacks and whites in dealing drugs. In fact, some studies show that whites are more likely than blacks to sell drugs, even though blacks are far more likely to be arrested for it.
My response was to explain to her over and over again that I didn't know what to do. "We elected you, Cory. If you can't help, then why did we elect you?"
The bill would expand the federal "safety valve," which returns discretion in sentencing for nonviolent drug offenses back to federal judges. It would allow persons convicted under the pre-2010 crack cocaine laws to receive reduced sentences, a change needed to make crack cocaine penalties more in line with powder cocaine penalties. Crack and powder cocaine are pharmacologically the same. The Smarter Sentencing Act would reduce these sentences and save our country $229 million over the next 10 years.
"I can say as a mayor who has been fighting on the front lines for years, the drug war is an abject failure," Booker said. "It's consumed egregious amounts of taxpayers' dollars. It hasn't achieved the public-safety aims of our streets, it's consumed human potential, it is a massive government overreach."
He said the real answer to fighting crime is addressing poverty and poor education. "All of these things are things we should be working collaboratively on," Booker said.
The Democrat wrote during the Reddit "ask me anything" chat: "The so called War on Drugs has not succeeded in making significant reductions in drug use, drug arrests or violence. We are pouring huge amounts of our public resources into this current effort that are bleeding our public treasury and unnecessarily undermining human potential."
Booker then called drug arrests a "game": "My police in Newark are involved in an almost ridiculous game of arresting the same people over and over again and when you talk to these men they have little belief that there is help or hope for them to break out of this cycle," he wrote.
Booker has said he supports medical marijuana, and outlined programs he has implemented to lower drug arrests: reentry, court reform, jobs, treatment and legal aid.
In mission and temperament, Booker is the quintessential designated driver. "TV, food, alcohol, sex--they're all things we can fill our lives with that can distract us from our purpose," he says. "I was one of those kids who wanted to be a good kid," he notes.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2016 NORML scores as follows:
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.
NORML is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby that for more than 30 years has provided a voice for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition. We represent the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly and believe the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime.
NORML supports the removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession & responsible use of marijuana by adults, including the cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. This model is called "decriminalization."
NORML additionally supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source. This model is referred to as "legalization."
NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.
NORML strongly supports the right of patients to use marijuana as a medicine when their physician recommends it to relieve pain and suffering.
Lastly, NORML supports the right of farmers to commercially cultivate hemp for industrial purposes, such as food and fiber production.
|Other candidates on Drugs:||Cory Booker on other issues:|
Senate races 2019-20:
AK: Sullivan(R,incumbent) vs.Gross(I)
AL: Jones(D,incumbent) vs.Sessions(R) vs.Moore(R) vs.Mooney(R) vs.Rogers(D) vs.Tuberville(R) vs.Byrne(R) vs.Merrill(R)
AR: Cotton(R,incumbent) vs.
AZ: McSally(R,incumbent) vs.Kelly(D)
CO: Gardner(R,incumbent) vs.Hickenlooper(D) vs.
DE: Coons(D,incumbent) vs. (no opponent yet)
GA-2: Isakson(R,resigned) vs.Lieberman(D) vs.Collins(R) vs.Carter(D)
GA-6: Perdue(R,incumbent) vs.Tomlinson(D) vs.Ossoff(D) vs.Terry(D)
IA: Ernst(R,incumbent) vs.Graham(D) vs.Mauro(D) vs.Greenfield(D)
ID: Risch(R,incumbent) vs.Harris(D)
IL: Durbin(D,incumbent) vs.Curran(R) vs.
KS: Roberts(R,retiring) vs.LaTurner(R) vs.Wagle(R) vs.Kobach(R) vs.Bollier(D) vs.Lindstrom(R) vs.Grissom(D) vs.Marshall(R)
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LA: Cassidy(R,incumbent) vs.Pierce(D)
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MI: Peters(D,incumbent) vs.James(R)
MN: Smith(D,incumbent) vs.Carlson(D) vs.Lewis(R)
MS: Hyde-Smith(R,incumbent) vs.Espy(D) vs.Bohren(D)
MT: Daines(R,incumbent) vs.Collins(D) vs.Cooney(D)
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NE: Sasse(R,incumbent) vs.Janicek(R)
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NJ: Booker(D,incumbent) vs.Singh(R) vs.Meissner(R)
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OK: Inhofe(R,incumbent) vs.Workman(D)
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WY: Enzi(R,incumbent) vs.Ludwig(D) vs.Lummis(R)
Senate Votes (analysis)